Joe Cullen has slammed Premier League Darts selectors as giving him a “kick in the balls” after being omitted from this year’s tournament.
The world No.11 finished fourth in last year’s Premier League table qualifying for the quarter-final stage where he beat Peter Wright. The Bradford thrower, nicknamed The Rockstar, then beat Jonny Clayton on his way to the final where he missed a dart to win the tournament before Michael van Gerwen beat him 11-10.
The world’s top four players are automatically awarded a place in the tournament and Cullen is one of several high-profile players who felt they deserved one of the four spots decided by selectors.
The Rockstar posted on Twitter : “Gutted with my omission from the Premier League! Don’t feel its justified at all if I’m honest…. In fact its a kick in the balls! But I’m certainly not the only player who rightly feels hard done by! Felt I deserved another chance after been 1mm from winning – been a tough day!!”
World champion Michael Smith, Van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price were guaranteed places in the 17-week short format darts tournament which tours different cities.
Selectors from the PDC and Sky Sports have chosen Chris Dobey, Johnny Clayton, Nathan Aspinall and Dimitri Van den Bergh to join them in the lucrative tournament. Cullen earned his place in last year’s showcase event by winning the Masters. However, this year he suffered a second-round defeat to eventual winner Dobey, who was rewarded with a Premier League spot.
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Cullen is amongst several darts stars who thought they deserved one of the four selection spots which were revealed this week. World No.5 Luke Humphries said he was “incredibly gutted” to miss the tournament after a standout year which included five ranking titles.
Former world champion Rob Cross and current European champion Ross Smith also think they merited places in the tournament which begins in Belfast on Thursday.
The top four players across 16 previous weeks will compete in the play-offs at the O2 in London on May 25, when the overall champion will be crowned. There is also a £10,000 bonus on offer to each night’s winner.